Sneha Pandit på tur i skogen.

Work (?) from home?

Corona times are going to have a special place in the future history books! What are we going to tell our kids? We sat at home, watched Netflix, made, saw and laughed at memes to save the world! To be honest, this is not all!

Photo portrait of Sneha Pandit.
Sneha Pandit is a PhD student at RoCS - Rosseland Centre for Solar Physics, UiO. Photo: UiO.

This article is written by Sneha Pandit

But I want to take this opportunity to stop and think.

What is the life of an academic? They read about all sorts of stuff, be it nerdy or cool! (Nerdy is the best “cool” , btw!) They work a lot (Read: A LOT) on their topic of interest, they publish their work and present it in front of other academics and hopefully nonacademics as well. But, is that it?

If it is, then doing work at all possible times should be a comfortable thought. i.e., one has to be comfortable working from home! Me and most of my friends have been struggling a little bit with this. Personally, being a people’s person, I feel like talking to people now and then. As it is not quite accessible, I call or zoom or Skype my family, friends and colleagues and lose a lot of time! Or, I would think about those relatives or friends , with whom I have not talked in a while and since now, I am saving the time I used for transportation (!), I can spare a little bit for them, I call them up! We catch up and feel reconnected. This again is at least half an hour?!

Or, I get an urge to listen to a particular song (or let alone a podcast!), then the music video is amazing and the singer was inspired by the stories of WWII and, what exactly happened to the singers great grandfather then? How is he connected to the drummer? Oh! They used to attend the same school! And poof! ! An hour is lost!

Composite image of different Indian dishes.
Cooking experiment! In clockwise sense: Kothimbir vadi (a Maharashtrian savoury delicacy made of coriander), a typical Maharashtrian lunch with chutney, raita, potato curry with roti (Indian bread), Indo-chinese fried rice and Pizza obviously. Photo: Sneha Pandit

Or, I feel like making some authentic Indian dish, because I am missing home and my

My ukulele. Photo: Sneha Pandit

grandmother used to make this whenever I went to her place! Okay, I need these ingredients as per the Google! I have to sauté this and boil that and then after a while I end up having world’s best Upma or something! (self proclaimed, because no one is going to come to my place to have a spicy hot Indian dish, here in Oslo! Kidding!)

Or, I feel like watching a good old Bollywood movie and have a good laugh, just like I used to have it in my undergraduate hostel. I would call my homies and have a nice relaxing chat about the times that we munched chips and watched awful Bollywood comedies (or may be horror movies, anything would turn into a comedy with them)! This would cost me a couple of hours! But it is very much needed to remain sane (or so I tell myself)!

I am not saying that this is specific to the “corona times”, these distractions exist in the ordinary, get-up-in-the-morning-and-go-to-the-office times as well. But, then, since it is a predefined office atmosphere, these thoughts don’t pop up in the mind. This is the challenge. So, I am devoting more of my time to not useless, not unnecessary, but detours from my “work”.

On the contrary, if it is work at the “ideally specified times” (9-5 in Indian standards, 8-4 in Norwegian standards!) I can hardly work when I come back home from the office. Because, I have so much to do! There is a non exhaustive list of stuff that I have mentioned above and much more, because then I can go out and do more outdoorsy stuff as well! So, this does not seem to be a problem specific to the corona times, but it is an issue in general. Usually, it would not seem this severe because of the separation of office and home space! (There! We have our problem statement! Without a solution, though!)

Now, I know many of my friends and colleagues are facing the same challenge and some

Meme illustration
Meme made on imgflip website.

are able to stay afloat (read: do substantial work!) For academics, it is pretty essential that they work from home efficiently. It is not something that stops on weekends or after working hours. The natural course of science didn’t stop due to wars or epidemics or pandemics. On personal level as well, in any favourable or challenging or overwhelming situations, a researcher always keeps on going!

Being a new PhD, it is not quite easy to stay at home and work (I think I will start working more when the guilt builds up! Bad motivation!!). Working from home is wizardry!

I know this seems a little more edgy, but for a girl who has been homesick for a while, hoping to fly home sooner, but not able to go and see people, this is how it is! There are times when we can read and write and do work. But then there is this urge to stop and do anything and everything under the sun!

This too shall pass! Me and all my friends will be able to overcome our weak spots and get ahead with work! It just requires little more discipline and a little more of calmness. I know I am talking to myself right now, but I need to say this out loud: It is okay to take time for keeping oneself sane. It is okay to feel little vulnerable. It is okay to be edgy and it is okay to still keep on pushing oneself til we can feel okay! I know that it’s gonna be okay! So, stay hydrated, meditate and rest in the nest, til we fly again!